MPR News did an in-depth review of the Republican Party of Minnesota’s finances and found former Chair Tony Sutton’s spending on GOP insiders is one of the reasons the party is $2 million in debt. Some of the spending includes:
-More than $1 million in payments to Trimble and Associates since 2008. Tony Trimble, who oversaw the 2008 U.S. Senate recount and the 2010 gubernatorial recount, said he only did the work party leaders requested and defended the “discounted rate” he billed the MNGOP. But Republican National Committeewoman Pat Anderson says she’s shocked by the size of the legal bills and said Trimble will no longer work for the party.
-A $14,000 bonus to the party’s executive director, Ryan Griffin, in July, 2010.
-$10,000 went to a researcher to study the efficacy of medical marijuana in September of 2010 (The heat of the 2010 race).
-$221,000 went to a Minneapolis-based public relations firm to rebrand the party. One of the people who worked on the contract was briefly hired to be the party’s communications director when Sutton was first elected chair.
-$5,000 was directed to a private investigator to study whether any election fraud occurred in 2010.
-$70,000 to GOP state Sen. David Thompson to do media consulting for the party.
Sutton told MPR News he should have curtailed spending when the fundraising was keeping pace. He said a big problem was the elimination of the Political Contribution Refund in 2009. A look at state campaign finance reports show that small donor giving dropped off dramatically since then.
Tidbit: The 14-member executive committee met late last night to discuss the party’s finances. It was the first meeting since political consultant Pat Shortridge took over as party chair. Party leaders say they agreed to do an internal review of some of the party’s expenses as they try to dissect what happened over the past two and a half years.
Republican National Committeewoman Pat Anderson tweeted that Bron Scherer has been appointed secretary-treasurer of the party.
Under the Dome
House and Senate Republicans released their vision to change how state government is run. The so-called Reform 2.0 includes several GOP policies that have been pushed in the past but also includes a few new ideas like a plan would allow for the conversion of failing public schools to charter schools and allow the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul to take control of struggling schools in their cities. Here’s a list of their suggestions.
MinnPost says Republicans were skittish on the stadium and Amy Koch’s affair.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem says he doesn’t plan to file an ethics complaint on the Koch matter.
Lawmakers held a hearing on state worker payouts.
Minnesota state government was unable to take calls on Thursday for three hours.
Gov. Dayton appeared on Midday on Thursday. It was host Gary Eichten’s last call-in broadcast. Dayton announced on the show that today will be proclaimed “Gary Eichten Day in Minnesota.” Listen to the program here.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is suing Chicago-based Accretive Health, alleging that it failed to protect patient health care records and failed to disclose to patients how their records are used.
The child care union vote now faces a federal lawsuit.
The House swore in DFLer Susan Allen on Thursday. Senator-elect Kari Dziedzic’s swearing-in ceremony will be held today.
The DNR announced a wolf management plan.
Financing for Essar Steel is in place.
Stadium supporters are hoping for resolution this session.
Dayton says the Vikings would have to pay $450 million for the Basilica site.
The stadium focus is now before a divided Minneapolis City Council.
The Pi Press says Ramsey County needs a Hail Mary to get the stadium built there.
Suicides by active-duty soldiers hit an all-time high.
Google says 7 million people have signed a petition opposing SOPA.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar campaigned in Bemidji earlier this week.
DFL Sen. Al Franken discussed the economy and energy issues during a speech in Duluth.
GOP Rep. John Kline will hold a town hall meeting in Shakopee on Jan. 30.
Race for Congress
The DCCC announced what Minnesotans have known for quite some time: GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack (MN-8) will be a targeted candidate in 2012.
Race for President
A fiery debate ended a bizarre campaign day in South Carolina.
Gingrich’s ex-wife told ABC News that Gingrich wanted an “open marriage.”
Gingrich attacked the media as he defended himself.
Gingrich paid $994,000 in taxes in 2010.
It looks like Rick Santorum, not Mitt Romney, won Iowa’s caucuses.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty is now lowering expectations for Romney in South Carolina.
Pawlenty also played the bad cop (to Romney’s good cop) by saying Gingrich’s infidelities concern him.
MPR’s Gary Eichten is retiring today after 45 years of services at the radio station. I’m honored to have worked with him covering political issues across Minnesota. I’ll miss his laugh in the newsroom, his modesty and the standards he sets for us. I’m happy to call him my friend.